BOTCH: The End Complete

When you think of terms like “noisecore” or “math metal,” one name should come to mind. BOTCH were undoubtedly pioneers of this sound. They combined hardcore and metal and brought it to new heights of technicality, dissonance, and creativity. Albums such as American Nervoso and We are the Romans brought the band critical acclaim from not only the hardcore scene but from the extreme music scene in general. Much to the dismay of fans, BOTCH decided to call it quits after 9 years. They leave one last gift in the form of An Anthology of Dead Ends. Bassist, Brian Cook fills us in on BOTCH – past, present, and future.

APESHIT: First off, I wanna congratulate you guys on the great job on An Anthology of Dead Ends. How do you guys feel about how it turned out? Do you feel that it represents the final evolution in the band’s sound?

BRIAN: I’m really proud of it. I feel like it did a good job of encapsulating our sound and our live performance. We had a really bad case of writer’s block when trying to put this ep together and I think it ended up being worth it.

APESHIT: The song “Afgamistan” is a definite stand out with its solemn, mellow vibe and piano/string/digeridoo arrangements. It’s like the special gem in the BOTCH catalogue. Can you tell us more about how you guys came up with the song and what it’s all about?

BRIAN: It was a song I wrote on my four track, and even though it didn’t really sound like our other material, I felt that it was leaning in the direction that we were apt to take if we hadn’t broken up. The song is about how I’m basically really uncomfortable in big cities. I have a real love/hate relationship with Seattle because it’s a great town with a vibrant music scene and it’s close to a lot of wilderness, but it’s also pretty congested, sprawling, and due for a huge earthquake. And we have Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, two active volcanoes, in close proximity. I’ve had repeated nightmares of watching earthquakes and eruptions wipe out the city while I’m on the outskirts of town and it’s just really creepy. So the song is based on those dreams.

APESHIT: After nearly a decade of being together, how did the decision to break up come about? Are any of you guys currently involved in new projects?

BRIAN: It was just time I guess. We were sort of at the height of our popularity but we felt like we’d sort of exhausted ourselves creatively. I was really pushing to do one more LP and a big tour but Knudson (our guitarist) kinda pulled the plug early so we wound up with an EP instead. It was sort of inevitable. He’s in a band called MINUS THE BEAR now. Dave Verellen and I are in a band called ROY. Both of those projects are way more on the pop tip than BOTCH ever was. I’m also in a band called THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES with guys from NINEIRONSPITFIRE and KILL SADIE. It’s less metal and noisy and a little more on the rock tip. Tim is also working on a new band but they don’t have a name yet. I heard some of their material and it’s pretty awesome.

APESHIT: You guys helped to pioneer a new style of extreme music. What were your influences in the beginning? How did your musical influences/tastes change over the course of the life of BOTCH?

BRIAN: We were all hardcore kids that were initially pulled into the scene by our desire to find new bands that took risks. As hardcore became more and more defined by a specific sound or political agenda, we began to look around for bands that were taking risks in other scenes. That meant anything from DEADGUY to DON CABALLERO, MESSHUGAH to DRIVE LIKE JEHU, SHELLAC to RADIOHEAD. It was less about ripping off bands sounds and more about being inspired by their courage and integrity to do what they felt was right artistically.

APESHIT: It seems like they are tons of new bands springing up everywhere who are emulating the BOTCH sound. At times, it seems that the younger kids are into these new bands but ignorant of where it all began. How do you guys feel about this?

BRIAN: As long as they grow and develop and find their own niche then I don’t care. Young bands always tend to be a little derivative. We certainly were. There are so many bands out there and so much history that it’s kind of unrealistic to expect someone to know the roots to all their favorite bands. All music is just an amalgamation of stuff that came before it and as long as you’re willing to acknowledge that and occasionally look into some of the older stuff that’s cool. But seriously, I don’t feel like you need to love THE STOOGES or DISCHARGE or THE BEATLES to be a legitimate musician. It might make your music a little more well-rounded, but that’s it.

APESHIT: Can you tell us what your final show in Seattle was like? How was the vibe?

BRIAN: It was pretty crazy. It was us, the BLOOD BROTHERS, HARKONEN, and PLAYING ENEMY. About 1500 people at an oversold show. It was a good way to go out.

APESHIT: I know that there is a DVD coming out next year. How involved are you guys in the creation of this project? What can fans expect to see on it?

BRIAN: We’ll see what happens. It should be pretty awesome. Matt Bayles, who recorded our last three records, did all the sound, recording, and mixing. Dave Larson from Excursion had five cameras rolling all night so it should turn out great.

APESHIT: BOTCH has undoubtedly toured extensively in the true punk rock way. Can you share an interesting anecdote with us from life on the road? What was one of the craziest things that you’ve seen at BOTCH show?

BRIAN: A bunch of people got naked during a show at the Melody Bar in New Jersey. These were people who were up front dancing and singing along for most of the set. We had a show in Hawaii at an S&M bar shut down by the Hui (the Hawaiian equivalent of the Mafia). I feel like there should be way more stories, but most of them end with “I guess you had to be there.”

APESHIT: How would you like the band to be remembered? What are you guys most proud of about playing in BOTCH?

BRIAN: We did what we wanted, how we wanted. People hated us at first and we grew into one of the biggest underground bands in the Northwest. We toured all over the U.S. and helped push hardcore in new directions. I’m proud of that.

APESHIT: Do you have words for your fans out there?

BRIAN: Thanks so much for all your support over the years. Be sure to say hi when we roll through town in our new bands.

» Read our review of BOTCH‘s swansong, An Anthology of Dead Ends

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